Candidate Slams University Cuts 3

By Graeme Cleland in the Dundee Courier

One of the leading candidates to become Dundee University rector has heavily criticised proposed cuts to the institution’s staff and courses to claw back a ‘1.6 million defecit.

Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, has spoken out againt the plant that could see town planning and modern languages courses axed – along with up to 100 staff. Mr Murray echoed concerns raised by the UCU that an artificial financial crisis had been created by a campus development programme that has seen millions spent on new buildings.

“I am very worried about the university’s desire to cut staff and cut the languages department,” he said. “I’m not at all sure the financial situation justifies it.

“I have been studying the figures and we do not need job loses, and certainly not in courses where the university interacts with the community such as with modern languages.”

When announcing plans for cut-backs the university suggested there would be “significant cost reductions and efficiency improvements” affecting the library, the estates service and research and innovation services. The university is also planning to increase income from sources such as overseas students and postgraduate students to try to turn a 1% budget defecit (‘1.6 million) into a 3% surplus by 2010 to 2011. That will require a change in the difference between spending and income totalling ‘6.85 million

Mr Murray suggested excessive amounts of money had been spent on unneeded layers of bureaucracy and administration rather than university teaching resources. He said he also believed the large outlays on recent building programmes undertaken by the university distored its financial situation and were being used as an excuse to enforce changes.

“It seems there is no need for these cuts, and I velieve the reason they are being pursued is part of an agenda rather than financial prudence.

“Only the smallest restructuring of the university’s debt would make the savings required to meet the targets set”.

Staff, students and the UCU have already vented their anger. Many are worried the changes could affect the university’s links with the local community as well as hampering its ability to attract students. Staff and students are planning to fight the proposed cuts ahead of the February 19 university court meeting, which will decide on the way ahead.

However, university management have insisted the capital investment in buildings and equipment over the past four years has been fully justified. It also highlighted the fact research income was high but was not growing as quicky as it had, and its financial status was not sustainable for the long or medium term.

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3 thoughts on “Candidate Slams University Cuts

  • kazbel

    Congratulations on winning the Dundee election!

    I'm looking forward to hearing you speak at De Montfort University in Leicester on the 27th, by the way.

  • Academic

    The problem with interventions like this is that you don't know or understand the situation. I work in this University, and language studies has been a source of trouble for a long time. I know from talking to colleagues that there is a central clique running the place who try to avoid change at every stage; this is why quite a number of really good people have been hounded out of the place. Just look at them now – not one of them has a research profile that is going to contribute to our RAE ratings, which is where the money comes from. In fact, the reverse. They need subsidies to keep going programmes they want to teach even though they have classes with only 4 or 5 students. The ones with the power teach a few hours a week, and at the end of May they're on leave until October. This is a typical case of a group of people creating a cushy little number for themselves and avoiding all attempts to get them to do what we in other departments have been pushed to do for years: stand on our own feet financially, and become recognized professionals in our field through research and publication. Again I say – look at their profile and compare it with similar Units outwith Dundee. The University has justifiably identified a serious weakness that will drag down our new School if we don't do something now. Everyone's shouting to keep people and activities – and there's no place where we can express our views without being attacked. And believe me – some of us are scared of airing our views because we know what these people and some of their representatives can do. If we want modern languages at least let's do it properly with some top notch academics who contribute to our research and quality teaching profile.

  • Lingoman

    If a candidate for the democratically-elected rectorship of a university offering his opinions on events that will have a profound effect on that university is an "intervention", what are all those pieces of paper that have been pushed through my letterbox lately, trying to persuade me to vote for this or that party in the forthcoming elections? Or are only academics allowed to intervene?

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